The 30-year Update by Meadows and Randers Analytical Essay
The symptoms of the world in overshoot are all over the place, especially following the recent studies by numerous scientists around the globe. According to Meadows, Randers and Meadows (2004, p. 14), the need to develop the economy in various countries has led to the massive exploitation of the natural resources.
The main problem that is faced in this process is that there is lack of sustainability in the process of exploiting these natural resources. It is worrying that the rate at which the natural resources are drawn is higher than the rate at which nature is able to replenish them.
This means that there will come a time when these resources will not be available. The rate at which we release wastes into the environment is higher than the rate at which natural forces can render them safe. Global warming is an issue arising from the massive pollution of the environment.
The problems that the poor face in their struggle to earn a living is becoming more complicated. The rich control the world and understand the dangers of overexploitation and pollution, but they do not care about the consequences. Although the global society still has time to correct this, time to act is now otherwise it may be too late.
This concept discussed in the section above applies to the oil and gas organizations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These organizations have been involved in massive extraction of oil.
The rate at which these organizations extract oil is so high that it is estimated that these resources may be depleted in less than fifty years from now. Moreover, these companies have been accused of massive pollution of the environment, rendering most of the areas where extraction is being done agriculturally unproductive.
These companies must act now; otherwise the damage that will result from their activities may be irreversible.
The Driving Force: Exponential Growth
For over a century, the world has experienced what Meadows, Randers and Meadows (2004, p. 27) describe as exponential growth. The exponential expansion has not just been experienced in the industrial sector, but also in the population growth all over the world.
The overall rate of population growth has been on the rise over the recent times. A report published in the year 1972 revealed that the world had a total population of less than 4 billion people. Another report published in the year 2000 revealed that the population had grown to more than 6 billion people.
Economies in many countries have been expanding rapidly as the race to be the economic powers or to come out of the developing economies status intensifies. However, this impressive growth only benefited the rich. Less than twenty percent of the worlds richest individuals own more than eighty percent of the worlds resources.
The other population lives in object poverty. They do not have adequate shelter or proper nutrition. For the rich, issues such as saving, investing, and multiplying the capital is something that is within their capacity. The same cannot be said about the poor.
The concept in this chapter applies to the oil and gas companies in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. These large multinationals make billions of profits in the oil trade. They are able to save, invest and multiply their capital with ease. They can easily go for loans from the largest banks in the region to expand their operations.
They own the economy of these two countries even though their owners are just a small clique of the citizens. Their impressive capital base acts as their drivers to exponential growth.
The Limits: Sources and Sinks
The exponential growth that has been witnessed in the world over the past century has limits. The exploitation of has reached its highest limits in the worlds history. Technology has helped in the development of sophisticated tools that can be used in the extraction of these resources from land and sea.
This has seen the amount of the non-renewable resources produced triple in the past two decades. The problem is that the faster these resources are exploited, the sooner they will be depleted. This massive exploitation and other economic activities such as industrialization are causing enormous pollution in the environment.
The greenhouse gases coming from the large companies are transforming the world negatively. Other pollutants such as oil spills are rendering land agriculturally unviable. This means that the renewable sources of wealth are affected in the process.
According to Meadows, Randers and Meadows (2004, p. 39), the quality of soil has been affected by either overproduction or exposure to the dangerous chemicals that destroy microorganisms.
In some regions of the world, scarcity of water has become a perennial problem because of . These forces have limited the exponential growth.
The oil and gas companies in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are faced with the realities presented in this chapter. They have been involved in massive exploitation of oil, and they are now faced with the problem of reduced levels of oil. Although they are still making huge profits, they are aware that this may not last long.
They will soon be faced with the need to look for alternatives. They will have to find alternative sources of income because the oil reserves in these countries may soon dry out.
World 3: the Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World
In the face of the massive threat that the current economic activities pose to the sustainability of the world, one positive factor that is worth noting is that the stakeholders have come to appreciate that action is needed as soon as possible. The threats must be identified and a model developed to manage them.
This is what World 3 seeks to offer. This computer generated model helps in understanding the way complex world systems change with time. As Meadows, Randers and Meadows (2004, p. 45) note, World 3 is based on the premise that we live in the finite world.
The earths capacity to sustain human needs depend on how well it is managed. It keeps track of issues such as environmental pollution, investment and depreciation, soil erosion among other issues that may affect the sustainability of the earth.
The model seeks to present the realities of the world but in an idealistic manner. It has basic assumptions of a perfect world where issues such as corruption, flooding, ethnic strife, AIDs pandemic, nuclear threats, or earthquakes do not exist.
It is a world that does not require a military power because everyones interest is to protect the world and everything in it.
To the oil companies in the United Arab Emirates, the model presented in World 3 is what they need to adopt. They are yet to give this model a considerable attention. The actions of these companies are still focused on maximizing the profits for the shareholders, giving total disregard to the need to champion for an idealistic environment.
Back from Beyond the Limits: The Ozone Story
It is important to appreciate that we are living in a finite world. In this world, there are limits to which individuals can exploit natural resources. Two centuries ago, the world seemed to be too large to be properly colonized by people in its entirety. Today, people are struggling to get small parcels of land that they can use for cultivation.
Large multinational companies have gone global in their attempt to maximize their profits. Industrialization has reached its highest limits and pollution is a reality today. Currently, the world has to grapple with the problem of dwindling supplies of oil, deforestation, species extinction, and climate change.
These are real threats to the world balance. What is even more worrying is the destruction of the ozone layer, a part of the earths system that makes the world habitable (Meadows, Randers & Meadows 2004, p. 51).
These are clear demonstrations that the current production processes have gone beyond the limits, and unless this can be reversed, then the world may soon be a planet that is devoid of living creatures.
The oil companies in the UAE and Qatar must beware of these risks of over-exploitation of the natural resources. The oil products have been considered the leading threats to the ozone layer. These companies should stop ignoring these threats.
They must understand that of the three pillars of sustainability, the environmental pillar is the most important one hence cannot be ignored. If the environment is not protected, then it will not be in a capacity to sustain all other factors of sustainability.
When these companies only focus on the third pillar of profitability, then it means they are going for the short-term benefits. Soon, the whole system will be unsustainable.
Technology, Markets, and Overshoots
World 3 technology has been largely criticized because it is believed that it ignores the role of technology in the market and in prevention of the overshoots. Technology is good, and it can be used to develop models that are beneficial to all.
In this book, the authors strongly believe that the only way of protecting the world from exploitation and excessive pollution is when the gap between the poor and the rich is minimized as much as possible. The desire to of wealth is what is driving the world to the edge.
The greed of the elites and their focus to ensure that the poor remains poor has resulted into massive exploitation of the economic resources. Technology is just but a tool. It can be used for the greater good or for the benefit of the few individuals who control the world.
The current threat to humanity posed by the nuclear weapons has been facilitated by the advancement in technology. The rich are using technology to expand the gap in wealth distribution. According to Meadows, Randers and Meadows (2004, p. 64), this makes technology a tool that does not enhance sustainability.
The oil and gas companies in the UAE and Qatar have embarked on modernizing their production systems. They are to extract and process oil. This only increases their profits, but ignores the need to protect the environment.
As this chapter illustrates, technology has acted as a tool to help the owners of these companies amass wealth and increase the gap between the rich and the poor. Sometimes these companies retrench employees because the machines are more efficient.